I am 364 pages into Tom Friedman’s latest book, The World is Flat. However, even with 100 pages left, I feel compelled to give a brief review of the book.
Tim O’Reilly has been flogging the notion of Web 2.0, Web services, and the architecture of participation for quite a few years now. Tom Friedman one ups this, rolling up Tim’s concept with quite a few more into what he calls Globalization 3.0.
Essentially, recent changes have enabled businesses to operate on a global scale that most of us don’t realize. We might think we’re seeing some of it, but we’re not truly getting the entire picture.
For example, two weeks ago I saw a bunch of links to Joe Krause’s blog post Itâ€™s a great time to be an entrepreneur. His claim is “Thereâ€™s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur because itâ€™s never been cheaper to be one.” And, using Excite vs JotSpot as an example, that it’s 30x cheaper to start a Web company in 2005 than it was 10 years ago.
I think many people read his post and immediately applied it to Silicon Valley or other US startups. And that’s despite Joe’s reference to global outsourcing sites. However, under Globalization 3.0, you need to recognize that all of these factors now apply to companies based in China and India.
Look at his points and see how they apply to countries with hundreds of millions of people. Hardware is a commodity. Open source has commoditized software. The glut of global bandwidth has turned that into a commodity. Now factor in 5-10x lower labor costs.
You end up with a giant group of people ready and able to bootstrap all sorts of technology startups.
It’s already happening. Most people just don’t know it. Tom helps you see it in detail.
If you don’t think this applies to you, check out this Times of India article with this juicy quote:
Says a programmer on Slashdot.org who outsourced his job: “About a year ago I hired a developer in India to do my job. I pay him $12,000 out of the $67,000 I get. He’s happy to have the work. I’m happy that I have to work only 90 minutes a day just supervising the code. My employer thinks I’m telecommuting. Now I’m considering getting a second job and doing the same thing.”
If stupid (heh) slashdot posters can figure this out, don’t you think businesses will catch on soon enough (if they haven’t already) and reorganize you out of a job if you’re not prepared?
By the way, don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing. (Read the book to see why.)
When I finish the book, I’m going to start looking for ways to to brush up on my long-dormant Chinese skills.